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Leo Q+A: Sarah Tynan

This edition of Leo Q+A has us skidaddling down to Farmhouse, the innovation and new venture center within Leo Burnett. There, we caught up with Sarah Tynan, who, after removing her much-coveted rose gold headphones, let us in on her Diet Coke habits, her love/hate relationship with Negronis and (in non-beverage news) her secret to co-worker compatibility.

Name: Sarah Tynan
Title: VP, Farmhouse Business Director

Describe your role in one word: Wrangler.

If you weren't in advertising, what would you be doing? Own a bakery or a flower shop. Something that still involves creativity.

What's on your to-do list this year? Get one of our products off the confidential development list and into the world.

What's the first thing you do in the morning when you arrive? Hoard Diet Coke.

Where do you do your best thinking? In the shower or while blow-drying my hair. But not while blow-drying my hair in the shower.

Do you have a personal motto? I'm an account director. Your motto is my motto.

What creative talent would you most like to have? David Kuta's ability to confidently wear any costume – anywhere, anytime.

If you could be a character in any commercial, who would it be? I’d be “Martha the Mop Lady” from Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance’s* old Indiana basketball promo that ran when I was a kid. In recent years, the university has revived her as a sort of mascot representing the tradition of Indiana University basketball. I love her spirit and sense of pride, which is pretty exemplary of Hoosier fans. Plus she rocks a sweet kerchief.
(*apologies to Mayhem)

What's your greatest advertising-related fear? I have recurring dreams (nightmares?) in which certain clients are surrounding my bed asking when they'll get the next version of a deck. Or was that real? I should see a doctor about that.

What's your current state of mind about the advertising industry? I’m inspired every day. At Farmhouse, we’re sort of a beta test of how Leo Burnett could work in the future. Our HumanKind philosophy is the perfect jumping-off point for innovation. Expanding our offering in new and relevant ways – for our client’s benefit, but for the agency’s as well – is the goal. This is happening in pockets all around the agency: within Carol Foley’s group, down on the second floor (at Leo Burnett Interactive) and within our (the agency's) new Participation Practice. Intrapreneurs are all around us.

What living creative person do you most admire? Jeff Tweedy. I know, I know. Stereotypical Chicago. So sue me.

Above: Jeff Tweedy going slightly off-brand at The Hideout in Chicago.

How would you like to end your career? As someone who is still relevant.

What do you consider your greatest creative achievement? Never (to have been) summoned to (Chief Legal Officer) Carla Michelotti's office (yet).

What's your idea of advertising happiness? At Farmhouse, it's innovation happiness, which to me is uncovering the idea that will actually improve someone's life in a large or small way.

What advertising lingo do you most overuse? “Let’s not give away the farm.” I mean, how obnoxious is that when I work for Farmhouse? A cliché AND a pun? Come on, Tynan.

What's your biggest advertising-related regret? Drinking three Negronis on my first business trip with Darren (Norkett, Chief Operating Officer, Leo Burnett North America). Turns out he didn’t need to hear my life story that night.

What trait do you value most of co-workers? I think being team-oriented is key. We’re all in this together, working towards the same goal, no matter your department or perspective.

What do you think most people misunderstand about the business? I'm becoming tired of answering the question, "So, which Mad Men character are you?" Pete Campbell is not a great analogy for my job!

If you could change one thing about advertising, what would it be? I’d innovate a way to mainline Diet Coke for improved focus and maximum creative output. (Chris Andrews, I think I may have a Farmhouse-Coke presentation for you. Give me a jingle, will you?)

What's the quality you most like in a creative director? Inclusiveness.

What's the quality you most like in an account executive? Accountability and inquisitiveness.

And, finally, what's your favorite ad/campaign ever? MINI’s Hoax and Counterfeit campaigns. Those sparked an “aha” moment for me as a young account executive, like, “This really is an exciting time to be in this business. There’s truly great work that can be done.”

Thanks, Sarah! For more Leo Q+A, have a look at our previous editions below:

Leo Q+A: Josh Raper
Leo Q+A: Charley Wickman
Leo Q+A: David Schermer
Leo Q+A: Anne Beebe